The Nigeria Prison Service (NPS) has won SABRE Awards Africa on Public Education for its media campaign on Prison Decongestion by tackling the plight of awaiting trial inmates (ATI).
The annual award which recognises Superior Achievement in Branding Reputation and Engagement, will be presented at the forthcoming Conference of African Public Relations Association (APRA) in Gaborone, Botswana.
The NPSâ€™ campaign which was executed by award-winning Image Merchants Promotion Limited, publishers of PRNigeria, created massive public awareness for mass-mobilisation and positive response from the concerned stakeholders who deployed legal and constitutional procedures to address the challenges of the alarming statistics of ATI.
Twenty-eight public relations campaigns from across the African continent have been selected as winners in the second annual event.
â€œThe quality of work in Africa is improving year on year,â€ says Paul Holmes, who served as chair of the judges. â€œWe are seeing exceptional campaigns from across the entire region, with increasingly sophisticated use of digital channels and a more integrated approach.â€
Concerned on the frightening populations of awaiting trial inmates, who were not convicted by the court, on assumption of office, the Controller General of Prison, Ahmed Jaafaru announced his determination to decongest the prison through effective strategies of Public Relations and Advocacy Campaigns.
With support from the Centre for Crisis Communication (CCC) and Prisonersâ€™ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), some of the campaign strategies included Facility Tours of Prisons, Media Relations, Training of Prisons Public Relations Officers and Stakeholders Engagements.
The outcomes included the enhanced capacity of PR Officers with fair media coverage, editorial mentions and robust Stakeholdersâ€™ Participation. Between January to December 2017, the campaigns were successful as the statistics of the ATI dropped to 66% by the end (December) 2017.
Factors responsible for the awaiting trial inmates in Nigeria include but not limited to high remand in custody, lack of speedy trials, overuse of imprisonment rather than fine on lesser offences by the courts, abuse of arrest powers and bail conditions by the police.